The commodity in the subtitle of this book is telling. The eminent blur biographer offers not a absolute or comprehensive history of TV but a claimed anniversary of his particular fascinations and a annoying application of the means in which the actual mechanics of the average affect the audience, both as individuals and as a accumulation culture.
In capacity often focusing on hardly left-field topics, including the botheration of “role models” and the cerebral furnishings of the bartering break, Thomson (How to Watch a Movie, 2015, etc.) organizes the book thematically rather than chronologically. This alignment apparel his allusive, circumlocutory style, as he analyzes the means in which TV’s different qualities—endless variety, constant availability, and insidious addiction against benumbed reassurance, to name a few—shape and contextualize viewers’ compassionate of the world. By the author’s reckoning, the access of TV on animal acquaintance is so abstruse that we branch on a bluff of complete canard (or basic reality), existing only in affiliation to the screen; in his formulation, the “elephant in the room” of TV’s ability has “become the room.” Thomson’s insights are typically unsparing and acute, and while abounding of the implications of his altercation are troubling, his adulation and account for the best of TV—Breaking Bad gets high marks, and no Thomson fan will be afraid to acquisition assorted appreciations of Angie Dickinson—are palpable. When it apparel his purpose, the columnist delves into added aboveboard histories of institutions such as PBS and the BBC, and he provides memorable sketches of abstracts from Lucy Ricardo to Larry David (“David has as abashed an attitude to the accessible as Charlie Chaplin had. But like Charlie he has begin absolution and airs in performing. He is maybe the most alluring abominable being on television”), but this is not alone a reference book. It’s a adulation letter and a warning, beautifully accounting and deeply disquieting.
A bracing, essential engagement with the ramifications of our lives afore the baby screen.
“The invention, or the quaint piece of furniture, wandered into our lives in the 1940s, as a primitive plaything, a clever if awkward addition to the household. It was expensive, unreliable and a bit of an invalid.” ―Television, A Biography
In just a few years, what used to be an immobile piece of living room furniture, which one had to sit in front of at appointed times in order to watch sponsored programming on a finite number of channels, morphed into a glowing cloud of screens with access to a near-endless supply of content available when and how viewers want it. With this phenomenon now a common cultural theme, a writer of David Thomson’s stature delivering a critical history, or “biography” of the six-decade television era, will be a significant event which could not be more timely. With Television, the critic and film historian who wrote what Sight and Sound's readers called “the most important film book of the last 50 years” has finally turned his unique powers of observation to the medium that has swallowed film whole.
Over twenty-two thematically organized chapters, Thomson brings his provocatively insightful and unique voice to the life of what was television. David Thomson surveying a Boschian landscape, illuminated by that singular glow―always “on”―and peopled by everyone from Donna Reed to Dennis Potter, will be the first complete history of the defining medium of our time.60+ illustrations
Television: A Biography
- BookTelevision: A Biography
- Author:David Thomson
- Publishing Date:2016-10-25
- Publisher:Thames & Hudson
- Number Of pages:304